My Top 10 Things To Do In Lisbon
Welcome to my personal top 10 things to do while in Lisbon! I recently lived in Lisbon for 5 months and came up with a list of things to see and do when a friend asked for some last minute recommendations in Lisbon. I then decided to make it a blog post because more and more people are coming to this secret gem to visit. Enjoy!
1. Have a big appetite for the best foods in all of Lisbon in one spot
If you want to try a bunch of different foods in a short trip or even just for fun, then I highly recommend checking out Time Out Market.
The drinks, seafood, burgers, and pizza are delicious! Just about anything you try here will be good because it’s supposed to have the best food from the best restaurants in Lisbon.
They also offer cooking / baking classes. My husband and I took the pastel de nata class which we loved and learned a lot from.
2. Enjoy the open space and sights of Praça do Comérçio
Image Source: Flickr
Once you’re done with Time Out Market, you can walk about 5-10 minutes towards Praça do Comércio which is stunning and right by the water.
*Side note for my gluten free & vegan friends, there's a gluten free bakery called Zarzuela and it's on the way to Praça do Comérçio from Time Out Market. Amazed that they have so many Portuguese traditional pastries that are made gluten free and some are vegan.
Once you get to Praça do Comércio, there's a huge historical statue, a beautiful view of the ocean, and a lot of events take place here including viewings of the world cup and euro cup games, and festivities during the holidays.
There's a beautiful arch as shown in the photo above called Rua Augusta Arch. The road that starts at the arch is typically filled with action. You’ll see street performers and TONS of shops and restaurants. Don't forget to get a pastel de bacalhau here.
3. Take in your surroundings at Praça do Rossio (Rossio Square) & Avenida de Liberdade
If you keep walking from Rua Augusta, you will reach Praça do Rossio aka Dom Pedro IV Square which is beautiful and great for photos, like all of Lisbon. It's a nice central part of town surrounded by beauty, and occasionally has events on the plaza. You’ll probably fall in love with the details in the cobblestone which I still can’t get enough of, except the occasional slippery ones.
Avenida de Liberdade follows Praça do Rossio. It's a really long pretty street with a bunch of big stores, restaurants, and pretty buildings. Both of these places are absolutely stunning during the winter holidays.
If you prefer not to walk the whole way, you can get a tuk tuk to get a ride and get a good tour of Lisbon. However, there are lots of shops and cafes you'll probably want to stop at.
4. Ride the Eléctrico aka the Tram
One of the many similarities between Lisbon and San Francisco is their trolleys or trams. There are trams everywhere that take you to different parts of Lisbon. For pricing and service information, you can check out which one to take here.
5. Be a wanderer in the Alfama district
Nothing like getting lost in a beautiful city. Purely magical!
Alfama district is the perfect place to get lost in with all the curvy, colorful streets and action going on. Going at night is great if you want to try dinner somewhere that has live fados which is traditional soulful Portuguese music. You won’t understand the words if you don't speak Portuguese, but the music is so heartfelt that you feel the meaning just by listening and watching the singer's body language. There's even a fado museum in this district.
There's also a wonderful flea market called Feira da Ladra which is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays till around 5:30pm. Trust me, it's not something you want to miss out on. It feels endless and has lots of cool items.
6. Feel like a King or Queen in Castelo de São Jorge
Near Alfama is Castelo de São Jorge which is a beautiful old castle you can tour and get a spectacular view of the entire city. Bonus tip: you can build your knowledge on the history of Portugal.
7. Do some sight seeing in Belém
Belém is also another must see while you're here because there’s lots to see in this little area. It has the view of the 25th of April bridge that looks like the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge, a really cool tower on the water which you can go inside, and other pretty historic monuments.
My favorite monument here is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. It's the tall monument of the explorers which you can go on top of for a bigger view. Just outside of the monument, there’s a stone map on the ground with the dates of when & where the Portuguese explorers navigated and colonized different countries all over the world. It's pretty emotional.
There’s also a monastery across the street which you’ll have to take an overpass to cross and get to. You'll pass a beautiful garden and a pink palace where the Portuguese President of Republic resides. There are two guards that stand outside and will occasionally do a march outside of the palace. They'll let you take a picture with them if you ask nicely. ;)
When you’re in this area, you can also go to Pasteis de Belem which is the most famous place for pasteis de nata which are the famous Portuguese egg tarts we are known for. However, my word of advice, do NOT go during the day for these because the lines are ridiculously long.
If you wish to try them, go late at night, or if you go to Belem during the day, go to Queijadas de Belem down the street and get a pastel de nata there. It’s prettier to sit outside, hardly a wait, and I actually prefer their pasteis more to be honest, but that’s just my preference.
8. Enjoy the night life in Bairro Alto & Chiado
Image Source: The Park via LisbonLux
Bairro Alto is the go-to spot for nightlife with fun restaurants and bars. You'll most likely see people celebrating their bachelor / bachelorette parties in this area. My husband and I enjoyed dinner at Lost.in which is an Indian restaurant but I highly recommend going during the day to see all the vibrant colors of the place and getting a full view of the city on their terrace. 100 Maneiras, which means 100 ways, is a popular fine dining restaurant in this area as well, which requires reservations in advance. We didn't get to try the food here, but our friends did and loved it. Instead, we had some drinks there and they were pretty and delicious.
There's a view point here called The Miradouro of Santa Catarina (see below) where people come hang out not just to see the view but enjoy the moment and each other's company. Some even gather around and play some music amongst each other.
Image Source: Radek U via Flickr
Another personal favorite of mine nearby is Armazens do Chiado / largo de chiado which is a great place to walk around and check out restaurants, shops, and cafes. Pretty much the norm in Lisbon in case you haven't noticed. They have a cool ice cream shop there called Amorino that makes ice cream look like rose petals. One restaurant in that area that we tried and liked is Stasha Restaurant. I really liked the risotto, both the seafood and veggie risotto are delicious. There's an extremely tiny glove store in this area known to be the smallest store in Lisbon. It allows I believe only 2 people in at a time.
9. Relish the magical sights of Sintra
If you have time or a ride to go to Sintra, I HIGHLY recommend checking out the Pena Palace and the Moors Castle which are relatively near each other.
Spectacular views especially at sunset. There are other historical gardens and palaces to see here as well. It’s a gorgeous, colorful vintage town with a few restaurants.
I also recommend going to their popular pastry shop, Piriquita. So adorable with delicious goodies (drool).
10. Catch some sun & explore the beautiful streets of Cascais
Cascais is such a beauty! I fell in love with it as soon as my husband and I drove into town. Driving along the coast is already gorgeous in itself. You get to see the ocean and the old towers that were built to use canons to defend their country against outside ships coming their way. There are also some extremely beautiful mansions that look like palaces, some of which are abandoned unfortunately.
Then there are beaches of course. Some popular ones are all within walking distance of each other, Praia da Ribeira, Praia da Rainha, and Praia da Conceicao which is the popular and bigger beach.
There are lots of restaurants and so many shops to walk to, but the beauty lies on the streets you walk on and the homes you pass by. They're so vibrant and full of life. My husband and I even agreed that we didn't feel like we were in Portugal. It reminded me a little bit of Sorrento, Italy and Greece.